Korean Government Goes Blogging!
Korean Government Goes Blogging!
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  • 승인 2006.08.01 12:01
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Ministries reach out to Netizens on Cyworld's mini-homepages Recently, many Korean government ministries and offices have announced that they would enhance online advertising and campaigns through mini-homepages, blogs, and Internet-communities in leading Internet portals, in addition to their official homepages. Last year alone, more than 40 government ministries and government-supported organizations established mini-homepages in "Town," the business oriented cyberspace offered by the Internet portal "Cyworld." Government officials who have launched blogs in leading portals assert that using a personal blog in leading portals is a more efficient way to advertise government policies and events and get public attention compared to traditional homepages because it provides a way of getting closer to "Netizens". Besides the advertisement effect, the use of blogs by the government has the latent power to activate policy discussion and enforce a participatory democracy. Thus, blogs can be a significant means of policy marketing for the government. Advantages of blogs in policy marketing Blogs are effective for the policy marketing in terms of four characteristics. Firstly, policy marketing using blogs allows the general public to become more familiar with public policies. Policy issues are delivered to people through free and enjoyable images in a familiar cyberspace. This advantage can enhance the favorable image of ministries and offices and decrease the disapproval of policy at the same time. Secondly, blogs make an issue of public policy very quickly. Information is easily diffused through communities and blogs because people have easy access to each other in cyberspace-they can spread the contents of one blog to another blog quite simply. Thirdly, in contrast to existing homepages on which it is difficult to upload images, sound, flash, multimedia, and etc., blogs offer a variety of types of expression. Existing homepages use bulletins that are text-oriented in order to give people opportunities to share their opinions. However, when using blogs, the extra bulletin is not necessary because blogs can communicate with each other without the extra space. Fourthly, blogs enable a deliberated discussion in cyberspace. There is a function called "Trackback" which essentially provides a means whereby different web sites can post messages to one another not just to inform each other about citations, but also to alert one another of related resources. Through this function, we can determine whose blogs have posted comments to our blogs, and visit those blogs with one click. In this sense, the function reduces the side effect of anonymity in cyber space and provides autonomy of expression. Governmental blogs appeal to younger generation Governmental blogs in Korea give the Internet-savvy younger generation opportunities to get policy information in an easier way, and enable governmental organizations to effectively advertise their missions and policy programs. In this sense, blogs have particular advantages in terms of policy advertisement. Visitors to the blogs as well as governmental organizations have evaluated the blogs as a new and striking marketing means. However, there remain some problems to solve. Firstly, all governmental blogs are built on huge portal sites such as Cyworld, Naver, Daum, etc. Therefore, it is difficult for governmental organizations to analyze web logs and insert new functions whenever required for policy marketing. In order to ensure discretion in the management of their blogs, they should install their own blogging programs on their web servers. Secondly, governmental blogs mainly focus on events and are not used actively for policy discussion (news.go.kr, Nov. 2, 2005; Donga Ilbo, Nov. 10, 2005). Until now, certain activities of governmental organizations, such as posting of events and policy information, and advertising of organizations, etc., have been aggressively offered since the beginning. However, blog users are not much active in deliberative discussion on policy issues. They upload comments in an active way compared to trackbacks. However, expression by means of comments is very limited in that it is text-oriented and difficult to express deliberatively long sentences. Moreover, profanities are prevalent owing to the anonymity of cyberspace. In Korea's governmental blogs, there is overall a lower degree of participation in trackbacks compared to comments. In unpopular blogs such as the FTC (Fair Trade Commission) and FSC (Financial Supervisory Commission), the number of comments is even small. Besides, since almost governmental blogs belong to Cyworld's blog, discussion through the blogs does not happen frequently. Cyworld's blog was not originally intended to be used for the purpose of discussion but for advertising or the sharing of individual information. Direction for managing governmental blogs The current management situation of governmental blogs is highly dependent on the leading portal sites. The strong point depending on the leading portal sites is that there is a high possibility that many people will visit the blogs. But on the other hand, the weak point is the lack of discretion in managing the blogs. The main reason why governmental blogs highly depend on the leading portal sites in Korea is that the portal sites maintain a closed policy for sharing contents with other portal sites. Many people use blogs on the leading portal sites, however, they can not simply share their contents with blogs in other portal sites. Recently, portal sites decided to change their management principle into one that allows for sharing with each other in line with the trend of web 2.0. Governmental organizations should be gradually independent of portal sites as the trend matures, even though they depended on the leading portal sites at the first stage. Governmental blogs need to be differentiated with continuous evolution and obtain discretion in management. Besides, deliberative discussion should be enhanced by operating the blogs for policy marketing. In order to do that, continuous development of contents is necessary. The contents should be related to policy issues and easily understandable. They should also have the power to induce people to participate in deliberative discussions. The advertisement effect of blogs is considered high and people actively visit the events that government departments hold in their blogs. However, this effect could come near to just gathering people for events. To avoid any undesirable result, the policy marketer should always pay attention to two-way communications. The trackback function plays an important role here. The function makes up for the weak points of comments and bulletins and gives people opportunities to suggest their opinions in an open way. In this sense, the budget needed to foster trackback use, filter out profanities and encourage active users, should be emphasized in budgetary allocations. Korea is one of the most developed countries in Internet-use in the world. Many countries will benchmark the activities of the Korean government in online policy marketing. Currently, Korea's governmental blogs are at the first stage and have been evaluated positively in policy advertisement effect. However, there is little discretion in management, and some are focused too much on events and others are still too formal and bookish. Korea's online policy marketing has arrived at the stage where it must overcome these teething problems and become a fullfledged e-Government. BS in Public Administration, Kookmin University, Korea, 2002.2 Completion of a Specialist Course in Technology Transfer, Korea Technology Transfer Center, 2004.3 MA in IT Business, Graduate school of IT Business, Information and Communications University, 2005.2

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